Crystal J.

$1,000 Education Scholarship Award Winner

My first book report in the fifth grade was on George Orwell’s "Animal Farm," which I chose to read because I liked the cover. That book changed my life. For the first time ever, I began to see that books contained so much more than merely stories when my older sister explained to me why her 8th grade teacher was fired for teaching that book in class. These books weren’t just the timid little imaginings of some grown up with a pen. They were fully loaded guns and their readers were armed for revolution.

I have decided to become an English teacher because to me there is nothing more important than literature. Words have the power to expand minds, shape ideologies and help us better explain and therefore understand the world around us. I believe the mission of every artist is to convey a message, conjure some emotional response, inform and/or entertain the public. Without studying literature the creativity of these great minds would be lost in a sea of meaningless media. Fiction literature places us in a position outside ourselves and thus forces us to see things from another person’s perspective. Therefore, the more we read the more we exercise empathy which in turn makes us more compassionate and intelligent human beings. Through books I have learned about places outside of my hometown and people outside of myself. I had developed a hunger to experience these intangibles and travel to these far off places. So in a way, literature has not only been my life but has encouraged me to live a better one. My only hope is to facilitate a life-long appreciation of the written word on to my students.

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